It Takes A Village to Raise a Child, and a World to Stop a Genocide

1.22.17 – Day of the anniversary of passing of Roe V. Wade

During my pregnancy I had stayed with a group of girls for a few months and grown in close friendship with them, but it wasn’t until my last day there that one of the girls pulled me aside and asked to speak to me alone.  This particular young woman had a very tough exterior and I had always admired her.  But in this moment, about an hour before I left, she began to slowly open up until she finally blurted out:

“I had an abortion.”

She continued to tell me how afraid she felt at the time, how angry she was at God, and how she just wasn’t ready.  She also told me how much she deeply, eternally regretted her decision.  She told me how grateful she was that I had chosen life, and thanked me over and over again for being willing to bring this life into the world when she could never go back and change her decision.  She could never go back and say yes to life.

As my friend continued to share with me, I sat there and said nothing.  Before we were finished talking I’m pretty sure that I had cried a bucket’s worth of tears – and this wasn’t just another one of those pregnancy hormone sad sessions.  As I heard about the death of my friend’s child, I wept.  I wept as I grieved the death of her child’s soul.  I wept because the soul that was within me at that moment had already changed my life forever.

There have been other times that I’ve cried.  Once a month.  During a break-up.  You know how it is.  Let me share with you another weepy moment.

Rewind several months earlier…  The pregnancy test showed positive.  In my heart I had known for days beforehand that I was pregnant.  Not only could I feel my body changing as it prepared itself to carry a baby, I could also feel a soul physically within me.  I could feel the presence of love, a human being, inside of me.  And so when the pregnancy test finally came back positive I wasn’t really surprised.  I was in complete and utter dissociative panic.  

I went to sit in the Church by myself and let myself cry.  “Oh, God, how did this happen?  How could I have let this happen?  How could You have let this happen?”  Anxiously I lamented over the choices I had made and what was to come.  I lamented over having to quit my job, the impending loss of my reputation, not knowing how I was going to raise this child.  Would it be on my own?  What was going to happen in my relationship with my boyfriend?  How would I provide for my child?   What would others think of me when they found out?

And then in the midst of this anguish, all of a sudden, I felt great peace.

“You should name the baby Grace.”

What?  That’s all I get, God?  I don’t need the name right now.  Right now I need a job, a husband, a house, a stroller….

“You should name the baby Grace.”

Now I grew up learning that Grace means “gift of God.”  And, once I became quiet and slowly began to let that message sink in, I heard God say to me, “This baby is a gift, not a burden.  A Grace, from Me.  A gift from Me to you, and to the world, and I want you to see this baby as such.  So quiet your heart, and receive the gift I have for you – with gratitude.”

This moment happened when I was less than one month into the pregnancy.  3 months in, I was about 95% sure that the baby was a boy due to professional soccer skills she had in kicking my stomach!  But sure enough, against all motherly intuition, around my 5 month ultrasound we found out that “Grace” was going to truly be her name.  (It was a girl!)

Huh, I guess God knew what He was talking about. 

Just a short word to those of you who, like me, have been pro-life your whole lives, went to rallies and walks in middle school, and think abortion is the most horrible crime you can think of.  Let me just explain to you what it feels like to have an unplanned pregnancy outside of marriage that you’re not ready for and don’t really have the practical means to support.  

Picture this: on the worst, most hormonal day of your cycle, you find out that something has gone very wrong in the most intimate relationship of your life.  You lose your job.  The most embarrassing sin you could confess is suddenly broadcast to the world via your stomach (which you can’t run away from, even for a moment).  You lose the respect of your family, your friends, and even your acquaintances.  You are now socially ostracized and don’t really fit into any of the “normal” social circles.  And on top of that you now have – TA DA!- a completely new human being that you are now financially, legally, physically and emotionally responsible for.  Well, at least for 9 months and 18 years!   Try and apply some of those situations to your life, and wouldn’t you want to take the very thing causing all these unwanted consequences in your life, and well.  Get rid of it?

Let’s talk about fear.  Yes, fear.  That is the number one emotion that I believe causes abortions.  And I’m not talking about stupid fears like “I’m afraid my pants won’t fit right.”  I’m talking about realistic fears, some of which (to be perfectly honest) may actually come true.  Like “I’m afraid I’m going to lose some of my closest friends because they will lose respect for me.”  Or “I’m afraid that I’m going to be a single parent and it will be hard for the baby, and I’ll do a terrible job as a mom.”  Or “I’m afraid that I won’t be able to provide financially.”  

Look pro-lifers, these are all realistic fears!  And, I’m sorry, but if you’ve never been pregnant before, it can feel at certain moments like a mixture between a concussion, a ton of Nyquil, and that the world is ending!  I’m saying it feels like that for any pregnant woman, not only single moms, or those considering abortion.  So imagine the weight of these feelings, plus the physical hormonal insanity of pregnancy, combined with the loneliness due to shame and hiding.  OK, you feel that?  Good.  Now try to convince these women out of getting abortions and you may actually get somewhere.  

If you try to approach a woman experiencing these things, and try to convince her that she is morally wrong for committing an abortion because it’s murder, do you think it’s going to reach her?

I believe that, as a culture, we need to not only be pro-life, but we also need to be willing to be Christ’s hands and feet.  He stooped down to our level and became one of us.  He washed our feet and sat at the tables of sinners.  He touched lepers.  He was in our mess, loved us, and brought us out of our mess into eternal life with Him.  

In order to really love these women, we need to listen to them, understand what they’re going through, and be willing to serve, to really walk beside them, and to really, practically help.  Promising to buy diapers is nice, but diapers don’t pay for daycare, and daycare doesn’t put your child to bed at night.  

Men who are willing and able, you need to step up and be willing to be pro-life too!  Not just by standing outside abortion clinics, but by being truly selfless gentlemen, by being chaste, by being willing to serve, by being generous and charitable toward those in need.  

Grace and I are very blessed, and I praise and thank God when I think about how many people (whom I thought would reject me because of my sin) actually embraced me and showed Christ to me.  When I think about how many times I didn’t know where I was going to live, or how I was going to pay for bills. I now know that God is ultimately both Grace’s and my Father and Provider.  God has continually provided for us through many beautiful people who said yes to His call, and became His hands and feet in our lives.  

All I have to offer is what I have learned through my experience.  I shared with you mainly my struggles because before my experience of having an unplanned pregnancy, I always wanted to help women who were tempted to abort, and encourage them to choose life.  But I had never walked in their shoes.  I had no idea how they were feeling or why anyone would ever make that awful choice.  I understand now, however, that if you help someone with their “why,” you may be better able to help them choose life.  We see this in Jesus with the woman at the well.  He understood her “why,” and actually met her there.

Although an unplanned pregnancy is a struggle, and can be very frightening and difficult, it is also the most beautiful gift.   From falling in love with someone you’ve never even met, to feeling them squirm inside of you.  Feeling like your heart is walking around outside of your body, and witnessing the beauty of a child’s innocence.  Each and every experience of being Grace’s mother has been absolutely beautiful.  (Not to mention Grace’s unfathomable cuteness).  There is always beauty in our suffering.  And in the case of a child, the beauty completely and unquestionably outweighs any hardship. 

I can truly say is that God has turned my fear into hope, my tears into joy.  Every time Grace smiles I feel so incredibly lucky to be her mom and I’ve never imagined loving anything or anyone more in my life. 

And God can do this for you too.  Or through you.  Each and every one of us has a role to play in this.  It takes a village to raise a child.  And it takes a whole world to stop a genocide.  If someone had understood her, met her where she was, and was willing to truly help her along the way, I wonder if my friend would have had that abortion.